The freight train that is the Jackson Indians is barreling full speed ahead into the Class 6 State Final Four. The Tribe has now won an incredible 17 straight games, and they need just two more to bring home the first ever Baseball State Championship in program history.
It won’t be an easy road to hoe though. The Indians will have to square off with the 30-10 Francis Howell Vikings, who 10-runned Jackson in a 16-6 game earlier this season. That was back in March though, and the Indians have come a long way since then, working out the early-season kinks. Still, these Vikings will be a tough task and a potential roadblock.
Armed with a deep lineup and a rotation filled with talented hurlers, Francis Howell has the ability to beat anyone on any given day. Jackson is going to have to contain the Vikings’ two heaviest hitters if they want to mute this balanced lineup. Brett Norfleet has legit pop and led the team with eight homers this season. He hit .358 and drove in 41 runs, while Leo Humbert popped three homers, racked up 32 RBI and led the team with 11 doubles.
The arms will be an issue as well, so Jackson will likely have to figure out a way to solve Brysen Nepute, who is 10-1 with a 1.41 ERA, a 0.99 WHIP, and has 75 Ks in 64.7 innings pitched. If he can’t go the distance or the Vikings decide to start someone else, they have a veritable smorgasbord of reliable arms that can step in and contain a lineup.
However, there aren’t many lineups like the one the Indians boast. This is an otherworldly team that has been shattering records all season. Jackson can run, hit for power and average and the lineup is as deep as the Alton Giant is tall. Look for the big three of Caden Bogenpohl, Baden Hackworth and Quinton Borders to try and find the cracks in the Viking pitching staff.
On the mound it will likely be Bogenpohl or John-Paul Sauer. Depending on who starts Friday, the other will likely pitch on Saturday in the State Championship final (or third place game). If both aces have to be used in Friday’s game, Jackson still has Carson McDaniel to toe the rubber for Saturday’s game, and he is no slouch himself.
We like the Indians’ chances in this one, but anything can happen on any given day, so hopefully the Tribe keep their gloves down and their swings barreled up, because when they execute, they are one of the most unbeatable teams in the country.
First pitch is Friday at 4 pm, and there are sure to be fireworks during… and hopefully after.
Good luck Indians!